During the approaching Spring Festival travel rush, control and prevention of COVID-19 will be the priority for authorities at many levels, senior officials attending a teleconference said in Beijing on Friday. Passengers line up at a railway station in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, Oct 7, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua] The rush, starting on Jan 28 and lasting until March 8, will be a time in which the nation still faces great pressure in containing the novel coronavirus due to large population movements. "This year's travel rush is different from previous ones as there are sporadic cases of novel coronavirus and outbreaks in certain areas," said Li Wenxin, deputy general manager of the China State Railway Group Co. He said that to curb the spread or resurgence of COVID-19, some local authorities have launched a variety of measures to mitigate the flow, such as encouraging people to spend the holiday in the cities where they work. Beijing, one of the main cities attracting migrant workers, will tighten its supervision over travelers and take different measures to avoid possible mass gatherings. It's estimated that trips leaving the city during the holiday will drop by 43 percent－an estimated 13.42 million trips will be made－compared with the previous Spring Festival holiday. Anticipated passenger volumes nationwide also have plunged due to increasingly stringent measures. The latest figures from the nation's railway department show that ticket reservations for the coming travel rush have decreased by nearly 60 percent so far, with about 296 million trips expected to be made nationwide over the festival. The number was 440 million in last year travel rush. Though the government has reinforced prevention measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, it also is working to make the travel experience more convenient for travelers during their trips back home. The national railway operator has adjusted ticket reservation policies, under which travelers can book their tickets only 15 days in advance instead of a month ahead of departure. The railway department also offers an eight-day period for free ticket cancellation and refunds. Also, health codes showing travelers' health condition and where they have been will be unified during the Spring Festival travel rush nationwide. Usually, travelers are required to use a new health code issued by the destination's authorities when arriving at a new place. Lian Weiliang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that it's necessary to implement the universal recognition of such health codes for people traveling across provinces or cities during the rush. For those spending the holidays where they work instead of going home－following epidemic control instructions－the government will also help take care of their children in their hometowns and organize online New Year's calls to reunite these families.